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tv   CBS 4 News This Morning 5AM  CBS  March 22, 2016 5:00am-5:30am EDT

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brussels? >> i think what happened last week when these arrest happened, people were extremely shocked. things had kind of settled down here. there had been a sense that maybe salah abdeslam, this man who was on the run, had maybe fled to syria. things had really calmed down from the height of the security threat back in november. so people were extremely shocked when the first raid happened last wednesday and then when the arrest of abdeslam happened on friday. now, there's been -- i mean, maybe i'm being a bit critical, but not self-congratulatory, but there was a sense of relief by the police that they successfully got their man, if you like. and there's been a lot of interviews by a lot of senior politicians thanking the police. and maybe people got slightly complacent. the public got maybe complacent about this. we do have to remember the interior minister on monday warned that the country was on high alert for some kind of a
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but i don't think anybody was expected the level of coordination attacks we seem to be seeing this morning. i mean, one thing to keep in mind, it was prime rush hour here. the first attack incident in brussels airport took place just before 8:00 a.m. local time. and then the incident on the metro took place around 9:00 a.m. local time. that would have been exactly when people were going to work in the eu institutions. so, i mean, there's a real concern here. the metro station has been shut. the security level has been notched up to level 4. and the prime minister is holding emergency meetings of his cabinet this were morning. >> suzanne lynch, thank you so much for talking to us. i know you're probably going to be really busy. hopefully we'll get a chance to check in with you a little later on. i'm joined now by vlad, thank you for joining us, vlad. >> good morning. >> i know we got you up a little earlier than usual. i'm really happy that you're here, though, because you spent a lot of time in mollenbeck, and you did some great reporting
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neighborhood, the challenge that authorities in brussels are facing when trying to make connections in that neighborhood. i think a lot of people were really surprised to hear that salah abdeslam went right back across the border from france and went right back into the neighborhood that he called home. >> that's right. mollenbeck is and belgium in general is considered the country that sends the most foreign fighters to syria, to iraq per capita than any other country in europe. a lot of european capitals is facing much of what belgium is facing, in other words, a young disaffected youth mostly with immigrant backgrounds that come from north africa predominantly, but in belgium in particular because of the unique nature of that country itself, the country has multiple languages, french, flemish, even german that is spoken. there are multiple governments. on top of that, there are multiple police forces. imagine you're trying to coordinate a response to any kind of terror threat, but you have one police department that
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french. and they have to coordinate with each other. and they might not speak the languages that the other police department faces. on the other hand, you also have the local administration. for example, where abdeslam grew up is less than 100 yards for our american friends away from where the mayor's office is. we actually stood on the doorsteps of the office of the mayor and looked across the plaza, and we could see where abdeslam grew up. and when i asked the mayor, just as charlie d'agata did recently this week when he asked her, how is it that he was living still here in the neighborhood right under your noses? the same question was put to the mayor back in december. how can this coordinated effort to root out these jihadists work if you've got people that are trying to attack the country that are living in the plaza where you come into work of single day? and her response was that normally the federal police, the
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national security matters with the local police. so there again, you see what red tape is occurring in a country like belgium. for example, you don't have the same red tape that you have in belgium that you would have in trance, for example, or in britain because the police forces are coordinated in how they approach terrorism. so that's a problem. the young people that live in mollenbeck, look, for the most part, there are a lot of good, hardworking people, law-abiding people in mollenbeck, but there is clearly a problem. there's clearly a jihadist strain running through brussels, and particularly in some of these neighborhoods within brussels. that makes it very, very difficult for police to root them out. >> let's explore that a little bit. when the paris attack happened, there was a lot of talk about young people feeling disenfranchised, feeling not connected to the greater european culture, whether it was in france or in brussels. when you were in mollenbeck, did
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>> they talked about -- they talked about the fact that they feel as if they are not part of belgian society. belgium has made them feel as if they are other, as if they are not of that country. and part of that is because if, for example, all right. so i'm being told that our cbs news national security analyst is joining us now on the phone. juan, can you hear us? >> reporter: i can, vlad. thank you very much. >> juan, unfortunately, we talk under these very terrible situations. what's happening now in brussels, i'm curious for your take on it. it appears that this is a coordinated attack that belgium, that brussels specifically, is under attack. one explosion at the airport. another at a metro station. what do you make of it? >> reporter: well, an awful tragedy, obviously, and our hearts go out to the victims. we'll have to see how this unfolds, but it's certainly an incredibly sophisticated attack in the wake of the arrests that
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these attacks had been pre-planned and that perhaps elements of networks have perhaps understood that they were going to be revealed and perhaps arrested or disrupted in the coming days and weeks decided to act quickly on plans that perhaps were already under way. but there's no doubt this is a sophisticated attack. you now have multiple explosions at a major european airport in brussels in the metro system in belgium, and it's paralyzing yet again a major western capital. and so this is a terrible development, of course, and one that, as you were just saying, suggests that belgium has a much deeper problem and one that dates back many years to a deep pocket of radicalization that has emerged in that country, now accelerated and manifesting in
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deadliest attacks on european soil in modern history. >> juan, we're hearing that all public transportation has been shut down right now. we know that the airport has been shut down. nights are being diverted if they were headed towards brussels. you know, this comes at a time, though, today, these explosions, when the country was already on high alert. we already had news of this high-profile arrest and news that authorities were searching for other suspects, one that was an expert bombmaker. and i think it would come as a surprise, and i'm sure authorities are going to be asked, how, when a country is already on high alert, how were terrorists able to pull these three or these three explosions off? difficult it is to stop this sort of thing? it demonstrates not only that these types of attacks are difficult to ferret out and to prevent before they happen, but
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problem that we're having in europe, to determine where these cells and networks are emerging and how they're planning and plotting attacks. i think paris was the extreme wake-up call here. we had elements of the islamic state, elements within european terrorist networks that were mobilized. and we know that many of those networks have preexisted, and we have known that there have been thousands of foreign fighters from the west. in particular from pockets in europe that have been traveling to and from iraq and syria. many of those have been known and tracked. many of them have not. and i think this, again, reflects not only the difficulty of this work but the challenge of the volume of the number of individuals who are part of cells that could prove deadly. and it also underscores the fact that you don't necessarily need
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if you have a few dozen who are committed with an expert bombmaker in the mix, that can prove strategically incredibly valuable to the terrorists and certainly incredibly deadly to a western capital. and i think that's unfortunately the reality we face, that europe is embedded with some of these terrorists and radicals. and it's very difficult for european authorities to ferret them out before these kinds of attacks happen. >> juan, you know, when i was talking to charlie d'agata earlier, he said that what struck him was just how successful today's attacks have been, that all three of these bombs went off. and that it's not necessarily always the case and oftentimes bombmakers are not very skilled at that job. what do you make of just how successful, for lack of a better word, today's attacks have been and the sort of training that
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have? >> well, i think there are two troubling elements to the success of the attacks that we're witnessing. one is the fact that you've had these explosions occur and the fact that they've been so devastating. news reports with victims coming out of the scene saying this looked like a war zone. and so these were not just simple pipe bombs or minor bombs. these were significant bombs, coordinated in multiple locations. the second part of this that's so dangerous and troubling is the synchronization of the attacks. the fact that you have them in major centers of activity commercially in terms of transport and the fact that it's so well coordinated and effective. and so the fact that the bombs were deadly and the fact that
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major european capital that, again, is incredibly troubling, and we're witnessing the effects of it. >> yeah, that's what people said was significant about the paris attacks, that it spoke to a shift in strategy, a shift in the style of terror attacks, that it was so coordinated that authorities were kept on their toes. when they ran to one explosion, then another one happened. >> it's almost meant as if distract. you wait a moment before you launch another one. juan, i guess the question that i have in looking at the reports coming in as we show images of the scene at brussels airport around the city, in your estimation, and i'm asking you to speculate a little bit, but also based on your intelligence analysis, would this be something that is done -- that was done in retaliation for the arrest of salah abdeslam? because we know, according to belgian media reports, that he
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else, or was this perhaps already in the works, and this is just an opportune moment to strike back in the wake of his arrest? >> this strikes me, vlad, just based on what i know, and again, we're speculating a bit here, but it strikes me that these are attacks that were already pre-planned, that they were likely under way or at least could be taken off the shelf and implemented and deployed and that it's less about retaliation, although that may be part of a motivation here. and more about target of opportunity and a realization that the networks and the plots were exposed now that these arrests had happened. that authorities may find -- may have found ways to then arrest or disrupt these networks. and so rather than have that happen, these plotters and attackers would then accelerate
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this is obviously something that authorities were worried about. they were worried about the ongoing threats. the elements of the networks that were still out there, the planning that was happening around abdel sa abdeslam. this is exactly what authorities were worried about, that plans were already under way, and that they would be accelerated. and that's, i think, what we're seeing. again, a lot of speculation, but i think based on what we know, that's likely what's happened. >> yeah, juan, i mean, you know, the question, of course, is when we look -- and i think americans are going to be waking up to this horrific news and wonder, an airport under attack, given all the security measures that have been put into place in the wake of 9/11 and multiple terrorist attacks including the one in madrid several years ago, people are going to say, look, we have all these security
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somebody is still able to somehow get an explosive device near or even into an airport, a metro station. i mean, these are targets of opportunity, as you've said, but what can be done to stop them? >> well, keep in mind that much of the security profile and protocols at the airport revolve around ensuring that nothing gets on the plane that exposes the plane in flight. so a lot of the rings of security are largely built around that. that has to do, then, with the checking of passenger profiles, et cetera. the rest of the airport, especially before the elements of check-in, the transport dimensions, the areas that are open to the public. >> juan, i just want to cut into you just for a little bit. we want to bounce back to charlie d'agata because he was able to arrive at the airport. charlie, what's the scene like at the airport? as i understand it, you weren't
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>> reporter: yeah. well, as we were racing toward the airport, it was just that last off-ramp to get to the exit, and we had ambulances that were flying past us. a lot of unmarked police cars that just zoomed past. we tried to get in there ourselves. we flashed the press cards, and we were told by a burly and very frenzied officer that you cannot go there. we said, look, we have to get there. we're press. they said, you're going to go there, you're going to blow yourselves up because we are still searching for explosive devices at the airport. so this is still an active scene. we're trying to get as close as we can. they're setting up a media location close to the airport. you can see the look on their faces. they're taking this obviously very seriously, and they said there are bombs that they're still looking for. >> charlie, when you were trying to get into the airport, i'm assuming that loads of people were either driving away, rushing away from the airport. what's the scene like now? do you still see people that are
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>> reporter: no that's -- it's just a one-way on-ramp to get to that airport, so we couldn't see people come ago way. it's a big-city airport, as you would -- well, you've seen it yourself. so they weren't on the road that we were trying to get to. but there is obviously the entire place has been locked down. there's a huge police presence there. and you know, although it is a tense time, just to look at the officer's face, this is an active -- an ongoing situation, and he said there are several bombs. you know, these are the type of reports, as you know, vlad, that you get to these situations, they're not getting all the all the information. all they ask is that we stay well away from it. >> i can only imagine the challenge that they're facing. we're looking at pictures here. we had some pictures of the exterior of the airport, crowds sort of milling about. if authorities think there's a possibility of other bombs, especially when we're hearing news that at least one of the
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i mean, how can you even really know whether or not there is another person in that crowd that we're looking at who may be part of this plot? they must be particularly tense there. i just want to sort of bring everyone up to speed based on what we know right now. two explosions at brussels airport. one, the result of a suicide bomber. at least one other explosion at a metro station but possibly other metro stations may have been hit. but we can at least confirm one. an explosion at a metro station that is very close to eu headquarters. in terms of the number of people injured or dead, we can at least say now 13 people dead. that's being reported by the media in brussels. 35 severely injured. that number could grow, of course. all transportation, public transportation, has been shut down in brussels.
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and the metro stations and buses are completely shut down as well. >> we're also hearing that the government is asking people to stay where they are. i just looked at a tweet from the brussels airport. it says don't come to the airport. the airport is being evacuated. avoid the area. flights have been canceled. clearly there will be concerns, as charlie pointed out, that there may be more explosive devices. and we have to consider the flights, the planes that are on the tarmac or perhaps already in the air, what the situation there is as well. juan, that's a question i think let me put to you. given that as charlie points out that you had the very shocked look on the face of a police officer as he told charlie to step back, there must be a serious concern that this is not over yet. >> -- they don't know. and the fact that there may be other attackers out there, other elements of a plot that may be
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great concern, no doubt, to authorities in belgium. other authorities have to be worried as well. no doubt authorities in france and throughout europe are incredibly attentive and worried based on what's happening and no doubt scrambling for any bits of information or intelligence to give them a sense to whether or not there are other plots or attacks under way. or as we've talked about in other cases, vlad, whether or not this inspires or prompts others who are inclined and ideologically aligned with the islamic state and these groups to begin to attack in ways that they had planned previously. and so authorities, not just in brussels, not just in belgium, but throughout europe are going to be very worried about what they don't know and what may be unfolding in the hours, if not days, to come. >> juan, are there any takeaways for other european countries and
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security precautions? you know, the fact that it is so -- it apparently appears that it was relatively easy to get some kind of explosive device very close to this airport, very close -- or within even a metro station? is it, do you believe, unique to belgium? or as we saw in france, you know, those were real soft targets. those were cafes and theaters. but these are areas that usually have a very, very large police presence. and so i'm wondering, are other european countries, other cities, going to be looking at what is happening in belgium and perhaps taking away some form of measures that they can implement right away today in their capital? >> absolutely. authorities in all the major capitals in europe are no doubt going to be strengthening their security measures at the airports. they can flex what security measures they put in place, certainly increase, for example, vehicle checks moving in and out
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the visibility of police officers, perhaps even more heavily armed -- these are paramilitary-type police officers, increase bomb dogs to detect potential bombs and baggage that may be left at the curbside, et cetera. so there are things that they can do that will flex the security in and around airports. the trouble, again, with airport security, though, is that the vast bulk of the infrastructure and the rings of security are built to prevent a bomb and nefarious individuals from getting onto a plane. that leaves exposed other parts of the airport and certainly other parts that have individuals individual s congregating and allow a terrorist group to fully exploit
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we've seen this over the years. the famous attack on the rome airport of many years ago. so terrorists know that airports are significant, symbolic and economic targets. and so they'll use them to hit where they can, and certainly western capitals and western counterterrorism authorities are going to be doing everything possible to lock down security where they can in and around airports. >> juan, stand by. i'm actually, while you were talking, i was just thinking to myself back in 2002 in los angeles, we had somebody spray -- and you'll remember this -- the el al ticket counter at the los angeles airport in the general waiting area, not beyond the points of security, they were able to get very, very close to hurting people. >> right. and the news that we're getting is at least one of the explosions occurred in the departure lounge. we had heard reports that it may have occurred at the american airlines desk. that has not been confirmed.
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statement saying that all of their employees and contractors are accounted for. now, we have ryan heath on the phone. ryan, you report for politico. you are in central brussels right now. give us an idea of what it's like in the city. i mean, are the streets empty? >> they are largely empty except for the blocked traffic, and i would say there is a state of total confusion. what i hear out of my windows is frequent sirens and emergency vehicles trying to move around. there have been a lot of ambulances rushing toward hospitals. and we've had a total shutdown of mass transit, be it the metro, the over-ground trains and anything coming to and from the airport. and it is a tense situation where people have been evacuated from the airport, but they can't really leave the perimeter of the airport because there's no way to go out. so there's a lot of kwaugs given that there have been other
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has the european union headquarters. and there are more and more reports amongst my colleagues of more explosions and loud noises. but it's hard to confirm exactly what they mean at this point. >> ryan, the question, i think, that a lot of people are going to have, brussels clearly a symbolic city, one, home to the european union, but belgium has had other terror threats in other cities. are you hearing at all that those cities are under lockdown, those cities are gearing up or those cities are gearing up or at least in anticipation tensely awaiting to see if anything happens there? >> they're absolutely on high alert. the official security coordination of belgium has raised the threat level back to what it was in november when the whole of brussels was on that lockdown for four days. and i think that it's very clear from what the interior minister has been staying, that they expect that other terror cells who feel under pressure or under attack because of these arrests
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those cells are going to go back into some form of activity. and it's too early to say whether that's the cause of today's explosion, but it would be an extraordinary coincidence. >> earlier we spoke to another reporter based in brussels, suzanne lynch. and i asked her about what it was like in the city after news that salah abdeslam had been arrested. whether or not there was a sense of relief or even more concern when you learned that authorities were also looking for other people, a bombmaker. what has it been like in brussels since friday, since that high-profile arrest? >> i would say reasonably calm. i think there is a sense that the belgian authorities are getting their act together. but possibly also a sense of resignation, that really they're too far behind the game. when you've had cells radicalizing for a number of years, people continuing to leave to go and train in syria
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easy to get on top of that just in the space of two, three or four months. and we see that in the way they've scrambled to try and track down salah. and you see that in the tension between the belgian and the french authorities. they put on a good show of cooperation when the cameras are turned on. but the sourcing we have from behind the scenes is that there is tension in the ranks there. and i think that there is just a sense that this must be going to continue for some time. and people don't really sort of lock themselves in their homes or anything like that, but there is sort of unstated assumption that we're not at the end of this process yet. >> yeah, ryan, it's interesting. charles michel, the prime minister of belgium, saying on friday that they had conducted more than 100 raids in the wake of the paris attacks to try and not only capture abdeslam but to roll up some of these terror cells. but clearly as we look at what is happening right now, the explosions at the brussels airport and at a metro station, the number and the threat is
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may have anticipated. >> yes. there are currently 315 active terrorism cases that the authorities have opened in brussels and other parts of belgium. and so that's just a huge number for a small country like belgium. and what we know is essentially there has been a chronic underfunding of these sort of security and intelligence services for quite a long time in belgium. the threat has scaled up. the funding and the resources and the skills and the general capacity of the system hasn't really kept pace. so to suddenly make that leap forward now when they are clearly under pressure, when they know that this change needs to happen, it's really like trying to -- trying to, i don't know, land the plane with one wing or fly solo or whatever the metaphor is. it's a very difficult task, and i don't think anyone envies them. but of course, they're going to have to step up, or people are going to remain in fear and in a
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>> yeah, i'm wondering if, you know, residents now are getting a sense that this might be the new norm that things have shifted permanently for them. >> well, i hope not, as someone who does live here myself. but i guess that nothing is ruled out these days. brussels is not only the home to the eu, it's also the home to nato. so that very important military alliance that involves the u.s. and canada as well. it's the diplomatic capital of the world. there are more embassies here than any other city on earth. i mean, it's obviously a very easy target when you combine that with the fact that while they are not ghettos, there are largely unmonitored areas of brussels, of people who have felt excluded, who don't feel their community has been integrated into society. it's kind of a perfect storm or perfect cocktail for these sorts of problems. >> yeah, certainly a great way of describing it, a perfect
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it's something that we've been talking about for a while. but for some reason really authorities have not been able to slow it down. it certainly seems like these attacks have been particularly well organized. it's not sort of a lone wolf sort of thing. we're talking about a multitiered organization that's probably also very well funded. now, right now we're going to pause a little bit. some stations are going to be leaving us. some stations are going to be joining us. we just want to bring you up to speed as to what has occurred. the breaking news for this morning is that there have been several explosions in brussels, belgium. two explosions at the airport in the departure lounge. the number of dead right now is at around 13. that's what we can confirm. but also around 35, possibly more injured. that is at the airport. at another location, a metro
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another explosion. now, we know for sure there's been an explosion at one metro station. there's a possibility there might have been other explosions. but for sure at one metro station in the same district, this station is located in the same district as eu headquarters. the airport is locked down. all public transportation is locked down in brussels. there will be no flights coming in and out. all flights are being diverted. and people in the city have been told to stay put. stay home if they have not gone out for the day yet, and stay put. essentially we're looking at a city that is frozen, that is essentially on lockdown until authorities can figure out if the threat has passed or if there's a possibility of more explosions. so i know that charlie d'agata, we had spent the morning -- we don't have charlie. charlie had spent the morning trying to make it to the airport. he managed to get there not too


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